The Cat O' Nine Tails
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The Classic Shocker from DARIO ARGENTO, Director of THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE and SUSPIRIA When a simple robbery at a research institute leads to a series of brutal murders, a blind puzzle maker (Karl Malden of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE) and a tenacious reporter (James Franciscus of MAROONED) begin their own investigation of the crimes. With nine different clues to follow, they uncover a shocking web of twisted genetics and dark sexual secrets that will finally lead them to a shattering climax of violence and suspense. Originally released in 1971, THE CAT O'NINE TAILS secured the international reputation of director Dario Argento as 'The Italian Hitchcock.' This is the definitive version of Argento's masterful second film, now fully restored from its original camera negative and presented completely uncut and uncensored in stunning widescreen.
"A Real Thrill Ride!" -- DVD Savant
"More Than Delivers All The Goods Expected Of A Dario Argento Film!" -- The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review
"One Of Argento's Best Early Thrillers!" -- DVD Verdict
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As always, Argento's eye for imagery is put to good use, there are several fabulous shots, not the least of which involves a chase sequence and a fight on a roof. Argento says his favorite technique is creating moments that are still, detached. I think he means "static" because there are more than a few instances where things lag for lack of purpose. I also didn't care for the final resolution because he (admitted) that he wanted it to be ambiguous. I hate ambiguous endings, there are so.................vague.
Flawed as it is, this movie is still fun (and absorbing) to watch.
I'm as big of an Argento fan that you'll find, but quite honestly I wasn't all that into this flick. While by no means is The Cat o' Nine Tails a bad movie, it just wasn't able to hold my interest through out the picture.
Dario Argento also wrote the script and while the concept wasn't bad nor was the execution of the script it just sort of lacks in some areas. Despite what some people say, Argento can write a good screenplay and here it wasn't so much bad as it was just not all that interesting in my opinion.
There was also a lot of good in The Cat o' Nine Tails; this is an Argento movie so one thing is clear you know visually it's gonna look really good. From a visual side this isn't Tenebre or Suspiria, but The Cat o' Nine Tails still looks good.
The POV shots are quite impressive and personally I would rate them as some of the best I have ever seen. The murder scenes aren't all that violent, but they do have a great creepy feel, which is made even better by the score done by Ennio Morricone.
Argento and Morricone made for a good team in the movies they have done together; the two together are just as good as Argento is with Goblin. With Argento's visual style and Morricone's music it adds to the tension on the kill scenes.
About 52-minutes into the picture features one of my favorite Argento kill scenes, while the F/X aren't all that great it's still a well-done and excellent creepy scene. You'll be hard pressed to find a filmmaker who can film a murder scene better than Dario Argento. They are so amazingly shot.
But the problem for me is just that the investigation just isn't that interesting at times, while it does have it's moments I just felt there weren't enough. The 112-minute running time didn't help matters as well. Simply put in my opinion The Cat o' Nine Tails just drags in some areas. For what it's worth though The Cat o' Nine Tails is still a pretty good film, but a major letdown after his brilliant debut, but Argento was still learning his craft and after this would go on a great run of some of the very best horror movies ever made.
The thing with Dario Argento is a lot of his movies you must see more than once. Anybody who knows me can tell you how much I idolize Dario Argento. But to be quite honest upon my first viewings of a lot of his work I found it average or below average. But after going back and watching them I became a die hard Argento fan. Maybe The Cat o' Nine Tails will be one of those films I come to like more with another viewing.
In closing, The Cat o' Nine Tails is a good film in the career of Dario Argento, but not everything works and we have a good film, nothing less, nothing more.